Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC Live with Joy Reid
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Joy Reid on MSNBC Live with Joy Reid from Capitol Hill to discuss the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the recently introduced Heroes Act, House Democrats’ urgently-needed legislation to address the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Joy Reid. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much for being here this evening. And I want to start by just sort of going through a few of the things that are in the bill and run through them. Nearly a trillion dollars that go to state and local governments, $200 billion, as we said, for hazard pay for essential workers, $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, $175 billion in rent, mortgage and utility assistance, $25 billion in relief for the U.S. Postal Service, as I mentioned and a second round of those $1,200 per person and up to $6,000 payments to households.
I think a lot of people are really excited about that – happy about that. But there are still some concerns that people have expressed. Some progressives have concerns. I'll read you some of them from Congresswoman Jayapal who said the following, tweeted this:
‘The legislation doesn't end mass employment, and it doesn't get paychecks back into people's pockets. The bill does not ensure affordable health care for everyone. Business owners are looking for certainty about how they'll avoid closing permanently without jeopardizing the well-being of workers. The bill doesn't tie funding of the basic public health guidelines required to do just that. The historic crisis Americans are facing will not end on its own. To end it, these three things, getting people paychecks, ensuring access to health care, supporting businesses and workers are critical, but this legislation does not yet address them on the scale necessary.’
Can you talk about the scale and the scope, and do you think that it's broad enough?
Speaker Pelosi. This is one of the broadest bills that we've ever seen come before the Congress. And let me say what is in it, as you say, what might not be in it. You very clearly pointed out some of what is there. Let me put it in this perspective. It is a bill that is our marker that we are putting down for the American people.
We have passed four bills for the coronavirus – virus challenge, and in those bills are the makings of what we have in this bill. Whether we're talking about aid to the – assistance to states and local as we honor our heroes; whether we're talking about opening up our economy by testing, testing, testing; whether we're talking about putting money into the pockets of the American people, all of those have a provenance, they have sprung from the four bipartisan bills that we have passed.
So, again, in those two of the bills, the CARES Act and the recent PPP additional interim act, those bills were started by a – written by the Leader of the Senate, the Republican Leader of the Senate. So, now, I on the House side are making our recommendation on all of this to begin the negotiation, and it has much bipartisanship in it already. It does have some momentous proposals.
Put it – think of it this way. When we do our aid to the states, it's billions of dollars to the states and hundreds of millions and tens of millions of dollars depending on size of cities and townships and counties and the rest. This will make a remarkable difference for them to defray the cost of the coronavirus, but also to offset the revenue loss they have from the coronavirus.
This amount of money is not as much as Republicans put forth for their tax scam bill, keeping 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent. So, when you think of it as being so big, it's not as big as their tax scam, and in addition to that, the money to open the economy for testing, as I mentioned, and the money in the pocket and the money in the pockets includes keeping people in their jobs with the employment retention tax credit.
It doesn't go as far as Congresswoman Jayapal's bill, but it is a path to it. And I would anticipate that soon we will be going that far, but it is – it does keep millions of people in their jobs should the employers take advantage of it. So, we're very excited. It’s momentous.
Joy Reid. Absolutely.
Speaker Pelosi. It’s momentous. We always judge bills for what is in it, while we can all criticize bills for what is not.
Joy Reid. Certainly, certainly, and I think it's important to make a note of the difference between that and the huge tax bill that went to very, very, very big corporations and rich people. I think it's important to point that out.
Just on the point of Republicans, because as you mentioned, at some point this has to be a negotiation with them. We know as of now 26.8 million Americans have lost their employer-based health insurance. That's per the Kaiser Family Foundation. I want to play you what Senator John Cornyn had to say which was a bit ironic in response to that kind of huge loss of insurance. Take a listen.
[Video Clip of Senator Cornyn]
Senator Cornyn. The good news is that if you lose your employer-provided coverage, which covers about 180 million Americans, then you – that is a significant life event which makes it – makes you then eligible to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. As you know, it has a sliding scale of subsidies up to 400 percent of poverty. So, that's an option for people. Good news is people can find – get coverage under the Affordable Care Act or via Medicaid based on their income.
Joy Reid. I think it's fun that he's saying that. This guy voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act twenty times. He's one of the most ardent opponents of the Affordable Care Act. He’s like, ‘Just sign up for that.’ I wonder if this opportunity to fix some of the broken systems that went into this, that sort of led into us being in this position, one of the most broken is this connection between your job and your health care. That if you don't have your job, you don't have your health care. Might it be possible in this moment to say, let's just break that connection and do something more like what Congresswoman Jayapal or what Senator Sanders wanted to do, which is to say let's break that connection all together and make Medicare available for everyone?
Speaker Pelosi. So, are you're suggesting at this time of the coronavirus that we do away with the health care system that we have? I'm curious about –
Joy Reid. No.
Speaker Pelosi. – what Senator Cornyn had to say and hope that means he would be supportive of what we have in the bill, which is our special enrollment period for people who aren't already signed up for the Affordable Care Act to do so. And maybe since he mentions Medicaid he would persuade the governor of his state to the expansion of Medicaid. It's one of the most phenomenal comments that I've heard from someone who has been opposed to all of this all along.
Again, we want health care for all Americans. Everything is on the table to consider how we go forward with that, and that is: many people, 150 million families, get their health care from their employment, in terms of their insurance coverage. So, again, right now I don't think is a good time to say why don't we just rip that out and try something new? We all want the same goal, and, but right now, right now, we're – people are losing their lives. Hearts are being broken. Dreams are being shattered because of not only the personal loss of a friend but also the personal loss of your health.
So, we're here to protect the lives, the livelihood, and the life – actually, the life of our democracy in this legislation. And, again, we have to go forward in a way that addresses the immediate concerns that we have and the most important part of it all: testing, tracing, treatment. And we have to do it in a way that addresses the disparities in our system so that we have a clear picture of the size and the diversity of the assault that this virus has made on us. And that's what we do, we have a plan, we have a plan for testing. A strategy, a plan, with a goal, with a timetable, with milestones, with benchmarks, to get the job done.
So, when this President says whatever he said, I don't know what it was, but something about stalling or something. No, people are dying. People are getting infected. More jobs are being lost. Let's open our economy by testing, as the scientists say, and the health experts say.
So, yeah, let's have that discussion when we're not in the heat of battle. But I don't think it is an argument against the Affordable Care Act. I take great pride in that. I always wanted a public option. Hopefully we can get one soon.
And then every other option is on the table. We've had hearings over and over again on Medicare for All. Nothing is excluded, but the fact is we've never been in a situation like this. Not even the Great Depression. It was a horrible economic disaster, but it was not complicated by people losing their lives to a pandemic. They lost their lives for other reasons, but not to a pandemic and at this rate.
But I love the enthusiasm of all entrepreneurship. Let's think in new and fresh different ways. That is the tradition of our party: bold, persistent experimentation. So, let us not walk away from that enthusiasm and dynamism of our party.
But right now, we have important decisions to make. Let us respect legislation that goes forth as strictly For The People, for working families. No business thing or any of that, not – For The People. And let us respect it for all that it does to the tune of trillions of dollars, rather than judge it for some things that it does not.
Joy Reid. And, you know, I think we are actually out of time, but very quickly, what has been the pushback from the White House? We do know that – or if any, you know, are you getting signals that this is something that the White House will go for the bill as put forward by the House?
Speaker Pelosi. As I said, well over 80 percent of what is in the bill is something that Republicans and Democrats have voted for and that the President has signed. So, this is nothing foreign to them. We'll have a fight over the Postal Service and some other –
Joy Reid. Sure.
Speaker Pelosi. Strong OSHA standard, which they have rejected before, but that – we will persist in that fight.
But I do think that the American people, we are getting flooded with response to this. The Association of County Executives, League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, some governors, bipartisan, Democrats and Republicans, because people are desperate and they need help and this is a smart way to do it and at the same time protect our heroes. Those who work so hard, risk their lives to save other people's lives and now they may lose their jobs.
So, we feel very excited about the choices that we had to make and the enthusiasm that we're receiving from the American people. I don't want to sound too enthusiastic because I'm very, very sad about how we're in this situation, and, again –
Joy Reid. Absolutely.
Speaker Pelosi. Always offer our prayers and thoughts to those who have lost their loved ones.
Joy Reid. I think that people very much appreciate that, hearing that from public officials. They don't always hear it from the White House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time. Stay safe.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
Joy Reid. Thank you.